Help Deciding between 21.5" and 27" iMac (2011)

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Swidy19, Dec 26, 2011.

  1. Swidy19 macrumors newbie

    Dec 26, 2011
    Hi all,

    So I've been using a 2007 MacBook for a while now (since 2007 in fact :)) and I think it's about time for an update as I put up with a lot of slowdown and lag with the tasks I have to perform.

    I have decided to rather go with:
    - 21.5" 2.8GHz i7, or
    - 27" 3.4GHz i7

    In other words, I'll get the high end 21" or 27" upgraded to i7, and I'll upgrade the RAM by myself.

    I am a university student (CompSci), so the money is something I think about, however, I technically have more than enough for the 27", I'm just wondering if how I will use it will justify the 27" purchase, because even though I really love the display, I already use a 42" LCD as a dual monitor.

    Basically, I will mainly be using it for the following:

    - Programming in Xcode and a variety of other IDEs (I like LOTS of screen real-estate for this)
    - Computer graphics dev (2d and 3d)
    - Music Production (Reason 5)
    - Photoshop
    - I usually like lots of peripherals hooked up (ex. midi controller, keyboard, talkbox, snes controllers, etc)
    - Dual booting with Windows 7 (probably so I can use flashdevelop, visual studio, and possibly play some windows games)
    - since either will be a big upgrade from my current MB, I will prob play some steam games (though, this is not the computer's primary use, I have a ps3 for this)
    - Lots of youtube :).. and I would like to watch HD movies on it, however, I will have a 42"LCD right beside it, so I could see this possibly not happening as much as I think.

    I should also note that I like having a lot of applications open at the same time.

    So basically, for these uses, will I see a large performance increase between the 21.5" and the 27", and also, would you recommend 12GB RAM or 16GB RAM.

    Like I said, I can afford either setup, but as you may know, it can hurt spending a lot of money when your a university student, lol. So I want to know if the extra speed and screen size is worth that extra 900$.

    Thanks for all your help!
  2. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    The extra speed and screen size are beneficial for your computational needs, thus I recommend the 27" i7 iMac. Maybe you can get a discount via the Refurb Store.
    With RAM, I would go all the way to 16 GB, especially as it costs only 80 USD.
    You could even go to 24 GB or 32 GB, but one two 8 GB modules kit costs around 170 USD via Newegg.

    Also know, that a TV is not a good monitor, especially a 42" TV with a resolution of only 1920 x 1080 pixel, that will just look blurry, unless it is only used to display videos.
  3. FrankHahn macrumors 6502a

    May 17, 2011
    It is great to have the 27" iMac for programming! So, if you can afford it, go with the 27" iMac.

    In comparison with the 21.5" iMac, the 27" one has a greater value if the difference in displays is taken into account.
  4. Swidy19 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 26, 2011
    Thanks for your quick responses!

    You really helped me solidify my decision, I'll go for the 27" and upgrade to 16GB RAM; I know that I'll be more satisfied in the end.

    I may look into getting a reburb as well, though if I don't, I'll still save a little on student pricing which is nice :) .

    Thanks again!
  5. Kendo macrumors 68000

    Apr 4, 2011
    I personally like using two big monitors instead of one massive monitor because I feel a little lost in 27" of space and the resolution is a little too high for me.

    I'd go with the 21.5" model since you can use it with your 42" LCD.

    And though the Buyer's Guide isn't always accurate, they do make a good point in that the current iMac is 237 days into its life cycle and the past 3 revisions came out after 231, 280, and 280 days. I'd probably wait for the next refresh if you can manage.
  6. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    I'd take a piece of 27" (actually, slightly bigger to fit the overall iMac dimensions) and see if that will fit onto your desk or whatever you use with that 42"er, or are you just using that as a home theater?

    I've always found that on the desktop two monitors are more manageable than one big one, even when you can get two documents side by side on the 27".

    OTOH, for 3d you need max power, so that ultimately may be more important.

  7. Swidy19 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 26, 2011
    I know that Apple keeps things pretty under wraps, however, is there any speculation on what the next iMac update may include?
  8. bobright macrumors 601

    Jun 29, 2010
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9A405 Safari/7534.48.3)

    In that case you would think we're a month or two away from a new model -- but then you hear lots of people say we won't see a new model until June or so??!
  9. jeremyshaw macrumors 6502

    Oct 29, 2011
    Ivy bridge.
  10. Duckit macrumors regular


    Aug 24, 2011
    NJ, USA
    I just opened a 27 inch yesterday, and I love it! At first I kind of wanted to return it for the 21.5 inch, but then after a couple of hours I fell in love with it. I would recommend the 27 inch for your uses and to anybody that likes to have a large display. I love the feeling of knowing that I can have multiple applications open at one time.

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